If you look closely at the prices of pianos from some historical violins you can often find a marked difference in the prices. The price of a viola from 1894-1926 has been estimated to be $4.95. If you look at that price in relation to the price of pianos from the same time, it makes no difference. You can’t tell the difference between the two. If you ask any professional musician about the difference between the price of the piano and the price of the viola, he will likely look at the price of the viola and say, “The cost of playing piano is just as great.” But he will forget about the violin.
Why does it cost more to purchase an instrument than to sell it? The question is asked a lot, especially in the United States where most of our great violins were designed and manufactured before any price controls were instituted. The question is the same reason you might wonder why an instrument must cost more to sell than purchase. It’s because someone wants to own it. It’s their instrument. They don’t want to be without it. As a result, the price of an instrument often is dictated, in part, by how much the seller expects an instrument’s owner to pay for it. That difference can be a lot of money in the wrong hands.
I was recently in a bookstore in London where the staff had a display that included some expensive violins. The staff was quite surprised at the amount of time that had gone into making the instruments; the shelves were stacked so high that sometimes I could barely find a certain violin within 30 feet of me. I saw many violins in this display and it seemed to me that there was a lot of waste product in the production phase of the instrument.
When you look at the production of violin manufacturers like Louis Daguerre, you notice that if you put enough money into an instrument, you can produce far more violins than you can sell them at.
The most obvious way you can do this is to go to your local violin dealer and simply ask what their current production is. By talking to the dealer’s sales staff you will learn that they will typically tell you the total volume of instruments they’re selling. You can then use a calculator to give you prices for each violin that they currently have in stock. It’s not very expensive. You can easily go up to $300-400 for a vintage Dauphin. Of course, you should take into consideration the
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